What I Stock Up On When I Feel Stuck In A Creative Rut

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When Dan and I went on our solo trip to Paris last week one of the most novel parts was traveling with one small, neat carry-on sans diaper bags and strollers. So I had a good laugh at myself for taking a handbag on flight that weighed as much as if I’d dumped all the toys in. In lieu, I had every September issue of women’s magazines that I’d been stockpiling for this trip.

Equally ironically, I ended up getting the least sleep I ever have on that flight since I was keeping my eyes propped on poring over all the minutia and fine print.

I’ve always been a sucker for the feel of a print magazine - the smell of the pages, the layouts and the saturated color. But this week even upon return, I’ve been re-reading the same stack that yes, I carried to and from Paris even after finishing them on that first leg of the journey.

I recognize not everyone loves publishing or lifestyle content or even visuals, but I’m realizing that my gravity toward the September bundle coincides with an itch for inspiration and creative momentum. As most of us can commiserate, when the kids are out of their school routines the summer can quickly turn into mom camp leaving less structured time for work on personal projects. I treasure free-time on thinking and brainstorming and without it personal projects like this one can start to feel a bit stale (if I’m being fully transparent).

So what do I find in my first and second reads of the September issues?

  1. A pulse on what people care about. I know several editors and they are all well versed in what women care about.

  2. A lot of words and different writing styles that make me think about how I express myself and how I can improve. Or one word will spark an idea or simply sit with me. I’ll never forgett reading a House Beautiful magazine in 2009 and reading the words Feminine Exuberance. That became my anthem in my home, my closet and friendships for 5 years.

  3. A check in with myself and what I authentically respond to and don’t. This can be about visuals, ads, words, clothes or books. This helps me by getting more focused on content I want to produce here.

  4. Other people’s stories and insights. It seems obvious but in the age of Instagram it’s easy to get stuck looking at my own grid or scrolling within my own circle which tends to heavily lean to parenting. But unless I’m reading Parents (which ofcourse I did en route to Paris), the array of titles present little gems of observations, advice and experiences of a broad set of women (or men) in various life stages and industry.

  5. Space to reflect. Unlike TV or social media, where at least for me it affords a way to tune out, magazines - the weight and the beauty of them - give me a chance to tune in. Simply by making the investment in time and tangible reading I am compelled to take the room to think about what I want to create.

Do you have a similar relationship to magazines? If not magazines, what helps you feel unstuck?

Featured image by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash